Rail strikes in Sussex: Chichester MP 'can't support union demands for huge pay increases'

Chichester’s MP criticised rail workers for striking and said she could not support union demands for huge government funded pay increases.

Thousands of RMT members voted to walk out across Network Rail and train operating companies on Tuesday and are due to do so again tomorrow (Thursday June 23) and Saturday June 25 in a row over pay and potential job losses.

Govia Thameslink Railway, which operates Southern and Thameslink trains, was one of the few companies where its employees did not back a strike. However since it relies on Network Rail staff to run its network, its services were also severely disrupted.

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Chichester MP Gillian Keegan, a Conservative government minister, said: “It is extremely disappointing that the RMT is taking industrial action rather than engaging in meaningful talks to try and find a resolution. This strike action hits all of us who rely on the trains and tubes to get to work, but it also adds extra stress for young people who are sitting their A-levels and GCSEs, and unnecessary disruption to members of our Armed Forces and veterans who are due to attend celebrations for Armed Forces Week.

Three days of rail strikes are being held this weeks disrupting train services across the country. Pic by S Robards

“We all recognise the nature of the current cost of living situation and, of course, would like to increase pay. However, I cannot support union demands for huge government funded pay increases, especially when many railway staff are already being paid more than many others in both the public and private sectors.”

GTR is warning passengers not to travel unless it is essential on strike days, with only services on the Brighton Mainline running in Sussex, while services are also due to be disrupted on non-strike days.

Speaking yesterday,

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “Today’s turnout at picket lines has been fantastic and exceeded expectations in our struggle for job security, defending conditions and a decent pay rise.

“Our members will continue the campaign and have shown outstanding unity in pursuit of a settlement to this dispute.

“RMT members are leading the way for all workers in this country who are sick and tired of having their pay and conditions slashed by a mixture of big business profits and government policy

“Now is the time to stand up and fight for every single railway worker in this dispute that we will win.”